The public’s causal attributions of schizophrenia have far-reaching effects on the community and affected individuals. This study investigated causal beliefs within a community of predominantly Protestant, low-income, urban, African Americans in the southeastern United States. Two hundred eighty-two patrons of an inner-city food court/farmers’ market participated in a self-administered survey assessing causal beliefs through a 30-item survey and self-reported causal opinions. Associations were assessed between causal attributions of schizophrenia and sociodemographic characteristics and exposure/familiarity variables. Certain sociodemographic variables, as well as key exposure/familiarity variables, predicted the nature of one’s causal beliefs. The most common causal opinions reported included substance abuse, negative life events, and “mental illness.” Findings from a subsample administered an exploratory multiple-choice question investigating understanding of causation revealed that the public may not fully understand the nature of causation. Although this study suggests potential determinants of causal beliefs held by community members, further research examining the public’s conception of causation would enhance interpretation of studies on such beliefs.
Psychiatric Quarterly – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 10, 2010
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